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LINGUIST List 18.1316

Wed May 02 2007

Diss: Neuroling: Garraffa: 'Impoverishment of Grammatical Features...'

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        1.    Maria Garraffa, Impoverishment of Grammatical Features in a Non-Fluent Aphasic Speaker: The grammatical nature of minimal structures


Message 1: Impoverishment of Grammatical Features in a Non-Fluent Aphasic Speaker: The grammatical nature of minimal structures
Date: 01-May-2007
From: Maria Garraffa <garraffaunisi.it>
Subject: Impoverishment of Grammatical Features in a Non-Fluent Aphasic Speaker: The grammatical nature of minimal structures


Institution: University of Siena
Program: Cognitive Science
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Maria Garraffa

Dissertation Title: Impoverishment of Grammatical Features in a Non-Fluent Aphasic Speaker: The grammatical nature of minimal structures

Dissertation URL: www.ciscl.unisi.it

Linguistic Field(s): Neurolinguistics

Dissertation Director:
Adriana Belletti
Naama Friedmann
Luigi Rizzi

Dissertation Abstract:

The present study is an examination of an Italian aphasic speaker (M.R.)
with non-fluent speech following a focal lesion in the left hemisphere. We
develop an explanation of M.R.'s language impairment compatible with
theories of generative syntax and with some observations on parsing
strategies. The explanatory framework we adopt considers the grammar to be
an integral part of on-line language processing.

A series of experiments was run across modalities (production,
comprehension and grammaticality judgment), with the aim of defining
impaired linguistic structures grammatically. Results of the various
experiments show selective impairment in some selective configurations
involving object movement in relative clauses, in Wh-questions and in
clitic object constructions.

Comprehension deficit of non-canonical sentences has been attested since
Caramazza and Zurif's seminal work (1976). In the present case-study a
similar subject/object asymmetry emerges from interrogative sentence
production, which has been found to be selectively impaired for object
movement of animate arguments. Some interesting data was obtained testing
attraction effects with clitics and prepositional modifiers. M.R. does not
manifest attraction effects if a clitic object is a potential intervener of
the relevant agreement relation; prepositional modifiers induce significant
attraction effects. We will speculate on these effects has precise
phenomena related to syntactic conditions on minimal structures.

This case study lends support to the hypothesis that the present linguistic
deficit is an impoverishment of procedural capacities. This impoverishment
is grammatically driven, and it manifests itself in reduced syntactic
structures. M.R.'s linguistic competence is not different to a non-impaired
grammatical system. M.R. has the capacity to analyse sentences respecting
syntactic phrase structures but not in the way normal speakers do.
Crucially, this approach to aphasia does not assume the existence of a
specific grammatical deficit, as the so-called agrammatism.





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